Four ways to travel mindfully amidst a pandemic
Happy New Year everyone. And I hope that we are all able to chart a fresh and exciting journey this year. The last couple of years have been very challenging and personally, for me, 2021 was particularly difficult and I was in no mood to travel, explore or even write. I managed a couple of short trips – one was a lovely experience of staying in a tiny container room called Heidi near Tumkur, with Tenpy and Linger and the other was a quick visit to a “Hidden” Homestay near Chennapatna where we visited some friends. While many travellers are now venturing out and travelling to new destinations, new variants of the virus have led to waves of people cancelling their travel plans. However, there is hope that this phase will slowly go away and travel will be back with a bang. I am not making any plans as yet but would like to slowly emerge out of my cocoon. I realized that a simple change in perspective and a little adjustment to my travel plans will help me discover new paths and also rediscover old haunts. For a traveller, it is always the journey that is the destination. And if you are unable to travel to exotic and far away destinations, here are some travel inspirations for you and some simple ways to travel and satiate your wanderlust And personally, these are my travel goals as well as I would like to make my journeys mindful and meaningful this year
Make your own city a tourist destination
Sometimes as a traveller, we just need a new pair of eyes as Marcel Proust would say. And with this new insight, we can explore new and old neighbourhoods, fascinating nooks, lost libraries, and charming museums in our own cities. Go to an old eatery or explore a new cafe, walk in a new park, lose yourself in an ancient temple, get charmed by art and architecture, discover little nuggets of history, buy from a local artisan – there is so much one can do in your own home town and explore ways to travel. As someone who has been living in Bangalore for almost two decades, I must confess that I hardly venture beyond my own neighbourhood, This is not because of lack of time or interest, but it has been due to the fear of the traffic. However, I have decided to become a tourist in my own city and find something interesting every week and make these my travel inspirations.
Picnic in your own backyard
There is nothing quite like an impromptu picnic. Pack some sandwiches and snacks, turn the music on and go on a long drive with family and friends. And you might stumble upon a quiet lake or a little hamlet or just some grasslands or the shade of a big banyan tree. Sometimes we don’t even need an exotic destination to have some little family time. A picnic basket and nature is just about enough. Many friends have been enjoying little picnics out in nature, while some lovely friends have also been organising and planning private and special picnics, like Bhawna Rao of The Picnic Company. So whether you like it planned or impromptu, carry your picnic basket on your next travel. And please do not litter the area. Carry your trash with you and find sustainable ways to travel.
Travel for a hobby
Travelling is more than just a hobby for a lot of us. It is a passion that takes us places. But when we cant visit faraway lands and exotic destinations, we find ourselves meandering in our own backyard. And that is when it helps to build a theme around your travels or explore a destination based on a hobby. For instance, birdwatching takes you to parks and forests, lakes and rivers. If you like street photography, you can document the town every day with your photos. If art and architecture is your passion, then look for old monuments around you. If you are a foodie, then make the jaunt and visit old eateries and quaint cafes when they are not crowded. All these become little cues to explore places around you with a different perspective.
Travel for stories
Storytelling is my travel inspiration. There are stories everywhere and there is a storyteller in each of us. So travel to meet people who will fascinate you and tell you their stories. They could be artisans, artists, entrepreneurs, dreamers, or storytellers themselves. You will find local stories everywhere – from folklore to facts. Local cultures and traditions make for fascinating experiences but they are also laced with legends and myths. So the next time you walk down your street, keep your eyes and ears open for stories.
And as always, travel responsibly and sustainably. Mask up, maintain social distance, avoid crowded areas and stay safe and at home, if the situation warrants you to do so. I believe that travel has to be both mindful and meaningful and that is my travel goal. What are your travel inspirations and goals this year and do you have any ideas on unique ways to travel this year?